Tweeting the #flushot: Beliefs, Barriers, and Threats During Different Periods of the 2018 to 2019 Flu Season

Jeanine P.D. Guidry, Lucinda L. Austin, Nicole H. O’Donnell, Ioana A. Coman, Alessandro Lovari, Marcus Messner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Influenza epidemics happen every year, with more than 8 million severe cases in 2017. The most effective way to prevent seasonal influenza is vaccination. In recent years, misinformation regarding vaccines abounds on social media, but the flu vaccine is relatively understudied in this area, and the current study is the first 1 to explore the content and nature of influenza information that is shared on Twitter, comparing tweets published in the early flu season with those posted in peak flu season. Using a quantitative content analysis, 1000 tweets from both parts of the flu season were analyzed for use of Health Belief Model (HBM) variables, engagement, and flu vaccine specific variables. Findings show several promising opportunities for health organizations and professionals: HBM constructs were present more frequently than in previous, related studies, and fewer vaccine-hesitant tweets appear to be present. However, the presence of high barriers to flu vaccine uptake increased significantly from early to peak season, including an increase in the mention of conspiracy theories. Flu vaccine related tweets appear to vary in misinformation level and density throughout the flu season. While this should be confirmed by further studies over multiple flu seasons, this a finding that should be considered by public health organizations when developing flu vaccine campaigns on social media.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Primary Care and Community Health
StatePublished - 2020


  • attitudes
  • health knowledge
  • human
  • influenza
  • influenza vaccines
  • practices
  • prevention
  • social media


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